It has been nearly three months since one of my Bible study group members and close friend went through a terrible tragedy. She lost her only daughter due to a senseless murder in which R500 was stolen. A pittance for a treasured life. It is only now as I work on this story that I am able to start the process of putting it behind me. I have realised that people are twisted and it hurts me deeply to see any harm come to a human being I can’t bring myself to accept that this was done solely for the money. I keep thinking that there must be another reason that could explain it all away and yet, there still is no sense to be made out of it, I wonder if I will ever be able to understand what went on in the perpetrator’s heads at the time.
The lonely road ahead for her parents seems inordinately tough and I wish I could make it better, yet my hands are tied…
(Dedicated to a dear friend who lost her only daughter)
Stealthily she crept down the staircase, remembering to skip tread thirteen, as it always let out a mighty groan if the slightest weight was put on it. At times she wondered whether an unsightly, evil troll had not taken up the empty space, called it home, and decorated it to his heart’s content. She imagined dark batwing curtains and furniture sculpted from the blackest stone. The groaning was his way of making it known that to step, even ever so lightly; on his house was not something to be contemplated at all. Humans, even small child-like ones, should take note of the ominous warning; it was not to be sniffed at or trifled with. You never sneezed at trolls; they were a force of nature.
Her mother said she suffered from an o-ver-ak-tif ima-gi-nay-shun, whatever that may be, she hoped that it wasn’t contagious or in the worst case scenario could kill her . The cat suddenly died from something called cat flu, but how could cats even get flu? She worried that this was in the same thread as having an o-ver-ak-tif ima-gi-nay-shun. Her eight year old mind boggled at the idea. She couldn’t quite figure out precisely what adults meant by the weird things they sometimes said. She believed her communication skills to be vastly superior as she always said exactly what she meant; there could never be any doubt at all. She was an open book.
On the last tread she stopped and listened intently for any noises in the house. She heard her parents whispering urgently in the kitchen; heard her mother crying softly. Her brow furrowed at the incomprehension of the sadness that wafted towards her. It smelt peculiarly of tangy lemons and dry desert sand. She shrugged her small shoulders, unloading the heavy emotion instantaneously as only the truly young can. She would just have to move more quietly if she did not want to alert them to her presence.
Ever since Sarah could remember there had been a moratorium on even glancing at the Christmas gifts under the tree, let alone handle or ever so lightly shake one as to guess at the content within. Yet, each year Sarah stole down the staircase when no-one was looking and shook the presents to her heart’s content. At times she even sniffed them, believing that this could pinpoint the exact location of the store at which the gift had been purchased. This year, being no different from the rest, set Sarah’s feet on the path to the living room.
The tree dazzled and winked at her; the crystal ornaments dripped languidly down each branch shimmering like cast off raindrops in the early morning light. Sarah stretched her hand out to gently touch the spinning fairy, smiled and looked down at the vast array of gifts scattered beneath the pine tree. She inhaled the sharp, clean smell of pine and lavender furniture polish and sighed contentedly. The gift that caught her eye was wrapped in rose red, shiny foil with a huge emerald green, sparkly ribbon and she shivered for her name was placed in her mother’s neat handwriting on the gift tag.
Sarah ever so gently shook the parcel, gingerly smelled the corners but couldn’t come up with an inkling of an image as to the content. Her train of thought was abruptly interrupted by the sound of a chair being hastily pushed backwards across the lime yellow linoleum in the kitchen. Sarah hurriedly returned the gift to the exact location in which she had found it and sprinted up the stairs to her bedroom to the accompaniment of her mother’s nearing footsteps.
“That was close, phew”, she whispered as she gently closed her bedroom door.
It became a daily ritual, yet each day Sarah struggled to swim against the current of despair and sadness that suddenly seemed to fill the home and lurk in each shadowy corner. Day by day the atmosphere became heavier and the air harder to breathe. The other marked difference was that Sarah’s gift, in contrast to the lemony loneliness, became brighter and gaudier as each day passed. She noticed that it throbbed eerily when she held it in her hands. The rose red paper changed into the color of the blood that ran down Sarah’s knee whenever she fell on the tarmac in the back yard.
This was my writing for the day, hope to finish by tomorrow…wish me luck.